The Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pod, also known as the Anvillus Dreadclaw, or simply the Dreadclaw, is a unique type of Drop Pod that was used by the Legiones Astartes during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy. The Anvillus Dreadclaw differs from other older Drop Pod types in that it is able to take off again after landing under its own power. The Anvillus Dreadclaw was designed to return to orbit after its initial landing to move units from battlefield to battlefield or even to extract troops from a planet's surface.
The Anvillus Dreadclaw is also able to board enemy spacecraft by attaching itself to the hull and then burning a breach with its Melta-Cutters, allowing the infantry within to assault the enemy voidship directly. The Anvillus Dreadclaw, and all the other types of Dreadclaws, are no longer used by the military forces of the Imperium in the late 41st Millennium. They are, however, still deployed by the Chaos Space Marines of the dreaded Traitor Legions. The Dreadclaw is known within some Imperial Navy circles as "The Touch of Death," and the talon-like shape of the Dreadclaw assault boat is greatly feared.
The Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw was first used by the Space Marine Legions during the Great Crusade, predominantly by the Sons of Horus Legion to land assault troops during the heat of battle, but with the outbreak of the Horus Heresy the Dreadclaw saw increased use amongst other Legions. The Dreadclaw is recorded in the Balthus Apocrypha as one of the last combat craft to be commissioned by the Imperium of Man before the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. The Apocrypha also states that its deployment was a troubled one and not universally accepted, leading to the Forge World of its origin being erased from all record. During these dark times it was found to be one of the most effective ways of deploying Contemptor Pattern Dreadnought Talons directly into the thick of battle. Near the end of the Horus Heresy, the use of the Dreadclaw Drop Pod became more widespread, especially within those Legions that favoured the highly aggressive nature of its Machine Spirit. The degree of self-awareness shown by the Dreadclaw was a source of controversy from its very first deployment, and matters only worsened over time. Such was the ill-feeling these Dreadclaws created that rumours soon spread that they were somehow corrupted with a machine curse not seen since the Dark Age of Technology. During the Horus Heresy itself, it appears that many malign incidents involving the Dreadclaw reached almost epidemic levels amongst the Loyalist Legions. After a particularly devastating incident aboard the Loyalist Battleship Legate Peracles during the apocalyptic Battle of Terra, there was no more room for argument and Loyalist Mechanicum Magi presided over the formal decommissioning of all Dreadclaws in Imperial service. Since that day, the Dreadclaw has only been encountered in the ranks of Traitor forces. These vehicles were retained in the Traitor Legions' arsenals as they fled towards the Eye of Terror following their defeat on Terra, and can still be seen today at the forefront of many Chaos Space Marine assaults as the aptly-named Chaos Dreadclaw. The Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw, and all other Dreadclaw patterns are no longer used by the Imperium due to the violent nature of their Machine Spirits, and its dark past as a tool favoured by the Traitors.
The following is a list of notable campaigns the Anvillus Dreadclaw has been used in:
- Great Crusade - The Anvillus Dreadclaw was widely used by the Sons of Horus Legion during the Great Crusade and in smaller numbers by other Legions.
- Horus Heresy - The Anvillus Dreadclaw's usage saw a marked increase during the Horus Heresy, with most Space Marine Legions on both sides of the conflict making use of them for boarding actions and ground assaults, although Dreadclaws used by the Loyalist Legions were prone to devastating accidents, and eventually the Imperium discontinued their use.
- Fall of Bellona - The Chaos Space Marine warband known as the Tainted made use of Dreadclaws during the Fall of Bellona in 230.M39. Having landed in the central plaza of the capital city of Bellona, a Dreadclaw opened its iris hatch and released a viral agent so potent that the city's defenders were rendered completely unable to defend themselves against the full-scale Chaos invasion force that followed.
- 13th Black Crusade - Dreadclaws were widely used by the forces of the Traitor Legions during the 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler in 999.M41.
- Invasion of Saint Josmane's Hope - During the 13th Black Crusade the Violators Renegade Space Marine warband launched a devastating Dreadclaw assault against the Penal World of Saint Josmane's Hope in the Cadian System. The world quickly fell to Chaos, and was later destroyed.
The Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw was amongst the most advanced assault craft ever constructed for use by the Imperium, and before its introduction ship-to-ship assaults in void combat were seen as one-way operations, with few means for the boarders to retreat if needed, only being recovered in the event of their victory. The Anvillus Dreadclaw Drop Pod was originally designed to insert Astartes boarding forces onto enemy voidcraft during battle. As such they feature a minimalistic profile and heavily armoured hulls that are capable of surviving fire from smaller ship-based close defence weaponry. When the Dreadclaw gets close to its target a series of Melta-Cutters allow it to slice through a ship's outer hull and deliver its cargo into the heart of a vessel. Unlike earlier boarding craft, which were incapable of extracting their cargo from the enemy ship to return to a friendly ship, the Dreadclaw is fully capable of acting as an independent dropship, both delivering and extracting its cargo without need of assistance. When the Dreadclaw was used as a planetary dropship many of the Space Marine Legions favoured the Dreadclaw in this role over the more common Storm Eagle, dropping from the sky like a regular Drop Pod and then using the craft's thermal jets and Melta-Cutters to scour the landing zone clean before disembarking its Astartes assault troops or Dreadnoughts. Though this tactic lacked any subtlety or elegance, it is undeniably effective, and many crews developed dark notoriety for their skill at reckless low altitude strafing runs that left great swathes of the enemy's lines aflame with each pass.
The Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pod was equipped with several forward-facing Melta-Cutters and Cyclic Thermal Jets that were used to cut breaches into the outer hulls of enemy voidcraft, but could also be used for dangerous low-altitude strafing runs and for burning clear a landing zone before touchdown. The Dreadclaw was capable of carrying up to ten Space Marines, five Terminators, or a single Castraferrum or Contemptor Dreadnought. The Dreadclaws used by the Chaos Space Marines in the late 41st Millennium are also able to carry a single Helbrute. The Dreadclaw is capable of being outfitted with external Frag Assault Launchers, which will fire a blast of fragmentation charges to protect itself from any enemy infantry that gets too close while the Dreadclaw is on a planet's surface.
- 1 Anvillus Pattern Dreadclaw Drop Pod
A standard Anvillus Dreadclaw is armed and equipped with:
- Frag Assault Launchers
- Melta-Cutters (forward facing)
- Cyclic Thermal Jets - The cyclic thermal jets are torches that cut a circular hole into a voidcraft's hull so that the Dreadclaw's passengers can exit into its interior safely. These are used in conjunction with the more powerful Melta-Cutters to breach the hulls of enemy starships.
- Inertial Guaidance System - The Dreadclaw's Inertial Guidance System is an on-board flight-control system that helps safely guide the Dreadclaw to its target, avoiding enemy fire and obstacles. This system controls the descent so that the Space Marines onboard are able to use the time to prepare for the coming battle.
Adeptus Mechanicus Technical Specifications
The technical specifications of this heretical craft are no longer publicly available in Imperial records.
- The Horus Heresy - Book Three: Extermination (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pg. 235
- The Horus Heresy - Book Four: Conquest (Forge World Series) by Alan Bligh, pp. 24-25
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Crusade Army List, pg. 45
- The Horus Heresy: Legiones Astartes - Age of Darkness Army List, pg. 55
- Imperial Armour: Volume 13 - Warmachines of the Lost and the Damned, pp. 88-91